Writing and Handwriting
At St. Nicholas-at-Wade, our aim is that all children love English within our learning community and are excited to read, write and express themselves. We understand that a good grasp of English is the foundation of the entire curriculum and that children who are confident and adept readers and writers, will be empowered to succeed in all other areas. Our curriculum is designed to equip pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature, through widespread reading for enjoyment. It aims for all children to acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.
“The wise builder builds their house on the rock”
We want to give our children something solid to stand on, foundations that will allow them to build a future for themselves and others, that will be grounded in their own personal character, beliefs and values. Our aim is that all children:
- are excited and motivated to read, write and express themselves; to be inspired to share this with others.
- are explicitly taught vocabulary so they have the knowledge and words to be highly effective communicators
- are provided with a rich, imaginative and aspirational curriculum;
- are exposed to a wide-variety of high-quality literature, which is reflective of diverse communities and experiences.
- build and internalise a bank of stories that support them in developing their imagination, vocabulary, writing techniques and confidence;
- are taught phonics, spelling and grammar that is contextualised within the art of writing;
- are exposed to high-quality shared and guided reading and writing, modelling the skills and techniques of being a confident reader and writer;
- receive informative and motivational feedback in order to move them on developmentally, as well as motivationally as readers and writers.
The St-Nicholas-at-Wade curriculum cultivates a sense of independence in writing, whilst being inclusive and enriching. We recognise the importance of children acquiring a wide vocabulary. In order for all learners to share ideas, develop vocabulary and to internalise language patterns, we use the principles of Talk4Writing, so that they can draw upon an extensive linguistic repertoire when writing. Through their time at St. Nicholas-at-Wade, children gradually build their bank of well-known texts, supplemented by picture books, novels, poems and non-fiction books. We ensure that all children experience success and that the English curriculum equips our children for their future lives.
We also want all of our children to be able to spell new words by effectively applying spelling patterns and rules. They will have a solid understanding of grammar and apply it effectively to their writing. We believe that all children should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing by developing a legible, cursive, handwriting style in preparation for their move to secondary school. Ultimately, we aim for all children to reach their full potential in writing.
At St. Nicholas-at-Wade, children are immersed in Talk for Writing from EYFS to Year 6. Its three phases (Imitation, Innovation and Independent application) mean that children are explicitly taught how to write specific story types (e.g. warning tales) and how to create certain effects (e.g. suspense) in their writing.
Teachers act as expert models in daily shared reading and writing sessions, and there are regular opportunities for children’s writing and ideas to be shared, displayed, published and celebrated so that children develop a sense of being the best they can be. The end goal of the teaching of any writing should be to develop children into successful independent writers, and so at the end of each unit - once all of the teaching, modelling and internalisation of knowledge has taken place - there is an opportunity for children to produce a final, independent piece of work.
Grammar is taught explicitly through Talk for Writing units, as research shows that knowledge is best internalised when taught within a familiar context. Writing is a primary means of expression, both for personal cognitive purposes and for communicating meaning with others. Pupils learn how to write with confidence, fluency, imagination and accuracy by orchestrating their knowledge of context and composition (text level), grammatical knowledge (sentence level) and knowledge of phonics, word recognition and graphic knowledge (word level).
We provide a wide variety of reasons and purposes for writing and in the early years provide many opportunities for child initiated and role-play writing. As soon as children are able to form most letters correctly and have a good pencil grip, we teach a cursive, fluent and legible handwriting style that empowers children to write with confidence and creativity in line with our ‘Handwriting Policy’. We encourage children to ‘have a go’ at writing as soon as possible and to use their phonic skills and knowledge to spell.
Spelling in Year 2 and KS2 is taught through Spelling Shed; their approach to spelling involves the relationship between sounds and written symbols as well as using morphology to help spell through meaning. The carefully selected word lists and engaging activities provide opportunities to incorporate phonics and meaning to strengthen spelling skills and build vocabulary acquisition.
The impact of the school’s curriculum can be seen in the learning produced in children’s books and in the wider learning environment; we ensure the children are aware of work they have done well and what needs to be done to improve further through feedback and marking. Future planning is directly impacted by assessment for learning, and misconceptions and gaps identified through assessments. This ensures children’s learning is deep, and that the curriculum effectively meets the needs of all pupils. Additionally, previous learning is regularly revisited in order to ensure it is embedded. We measure attainment using monitoring and book looks, the Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 national assessments, along with the information provided by teacher assessments for writing, reading, grammar, punctuation and spelling. Teachers regularly meet with senior leaders in school to monitor pupil progress and set effective targets. For quality assurance, moderating with other local schools ensures a rigorous and calibrated approach to our assessment.
Our well-planned English curriculum ensures that the children at St Nicholas-at-Wade children develop the skills, knowledge and vocabulary that will enable them to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language. Through the breadth and depth that our curriculum offers, children are equipped with the skills to become lifelong learners, to enjoy and appreciate a rich variety of literature, and ultimately, to being the best they can be. It leads them to become informed, enthusiastic and skilled readers and writers, who can engage with texts and the world around them, as reflective and independent thinkers.
The Talk for Writing units always start with a hook that will enthuse the children and immerse them in the story or genre. These opportunities include drama, art work, trips, role play, ICT opportunities, animals in school and many more. Within the units there are also many opportunities given to enrich the children’s experiences further. Real life objects, video stimulus and art is all used to increase the children’s experience and grow their imagination. It is important that all possibilities are opened up to children so that their story writing becomes increasingly creative.
SEND and Disadvantaged pupils
The Talk for Writing approach is inclusive by design and allows all children to access the writing curriculum. The actions and focus on learning stories before writing means that all children are able to access the same texts. At the heart of this approach lies the philosophy that we ensure all children experience success through the quality first teaching of writing. Adaptations are made at all stages to scaffold the children to achieve and succeed.